Visiting Rainbow waterfall, Mammoth Lakes
I had this place in my list for a long time. The reason is this place is not accessible all the times due to heavy snow and icy roads. Fortunately, this year (2014) it was opened from June 3rd week for few weeks duration. So, I decided to visit and shot some pictures of this awesome 101 foot waterfall located in Devils Postpile National Monument along with one of my friends.
That said, accessing this waterfalls is not just easy. I mean not straight forward. Visitors will have to take the mandatory Reds Meadow Shuttle Bus, departing from the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area parking lot. Shuttle service begins in mid-June and continues through the end of September. Tickets cost $7.00 for adults. These tickets can be purchased at the Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center or any other Mammoth Mountain Ticket Outlet. Once that is done, need to wait for a bus to arrive. The bus frequency is 20 mins each direction.
Got in. Bus was awesome and driver was very friendly. He used to quiz kids the general questions about nature, trees, forest, mountains etc. It was informative for adults too. Overall experience in the bus was remarkable. Shuttle took 30 minutes to reach our destination. By the way, there are 10 stops in the monument. Rainbow falls was stop #9. Visitors can get down and in anywhere anytime during operating hours. We were told that the last bus was at 7:30 pm before sunset.
We read from brochure that this falls looks great during mid day when sun is right on top of the falls since that’s when the rainbow appears as can be seen from image above. So, we decided not to miss this at all. We got down at trailhead (stop #9) to rainbow falls at around 10:45 am and started hiking from there.
Actually there are two ways to reach this falls. One by getting down at stop #6 which takes you to Devils Postpile (about 0.4 miles from stop #6) and from there to the falls (additional 1.5 miles) or to go to stop #9 and go directly to the falls (about 1.25 miles). Most of the people gets off at stop #6 but, we took second option because we wanted to finish shooting waterfalls as fast as possible and to drive directly to Lake Tahoe for sunset shots at Bonsai Rock. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit Devils Postpile but if you are planning a day trip at Mammoth Lakes, there is plenty to complete in one day.
At a constant walking pace it takes about 45 minutes to reach the falls so bring plenty of water, and maybe some snacks. We ran out of water on the way back to stop #9 and had to wait until we come back to car. Please don’t make that mistake. Hike from stop #9 was moderate according to information provided at visitor’s center but we found little tiring because there were steep steps though they had wire cable for stability. Once reaching the top of the waterfall there are some spots to stop and capture amazing photos. But, we went down to lower falls first and then took photos from the top. Man! what a gorgeous waterfall that flows beautifully. One of the most beautiful waterfalls in California. It is a must when you visit Mammoth Lakes.
We did not waste time and started shooting continuously in various angles, positions and exposures. I think I must have taken nearly 60-70 shots of this falls that day. Just imagine the combination of shots that we can make from this place. This falls was awesome. We could see rainbow too. Both the upper and the lower views were incredible.
We finished everything by 1:30 pm, hiked back. I cannot say whether we enjoyed the hike or not but the photography for sure. It was worth driving that far in the night.
Also another advise is please make sure you check the weather because it varies every hour in Mammoth Lakes. That day it started raining around 4 pm with thunder storms while we were driving to Lake Tahoe on route 395. Be prepared!!!